Wednesday, 5 December 2012

modesty in a Christian context

A letter from the women of Providence, my church, on the topic of modesty.

I have struggled with the concept of modesty quite a lot, believing that it is primarily a humble attitude in a person, not limited to the clothing women wear, and I'm so proud of the women in this church for the stand they are taking.

Friday, 23 November 2012

preparing for Lent

     I know, Lent is still pretty far away, but it is one of my favourite Christian traditions. It has been since I read about it in a book many many moons ago, when I was about 14. I start planning what I'm going to give up months in advance. I relish the idea of the upcoming sacrifice. That probably says something about me, that I like to give something up only for a defined period of time. I'm great at it usually, provided that it is something concrete--say junk food, not my snooze button. (The snooze button experiment of 2000-something was a definite failure.) This year I've been trying to identify what would be the most beneficial thing to give up, and I'm thinking it won't be something concrete. I'm thinking it will be harder. I'm thinking that what I'm going to try to give up is the fear of man, their perceptions of me, or least my perception of their perceptions. I'm thinking that the idea behind Lent isn't just to sacrifice something, or to relish the feeling of asceticism I get, but rather to take the time to look at what is holding me back from Jesus, and to let go of that, to focus my eyes upon Jesus. And I'm also thinking, why wait?
    If I know that this is a stumbling block for me, and it is, why wait? I spend far too much time being paralyzed by how people will react, and often that fear stops me from acting at all. It wraps me up in my head, imagining their judgement, their disapproval, and beating myself up with it. And that needs to stop. The only judgement I should be concerning myself with is God's.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Lonely Land

Cedar and jagged fir
uplift sharp barbs
against the gray
and cloud-piled sky;
and in the bay
blown, spume and windrift
and thin, bitter spray
at the whirling sky;
and the pine trees
lean one way.

A wild duck calls
to her mate,
and the ragged
and passionate tones
stagger and fall,
and recover,
and stagger and fall,
on those stones--
are lost
in the lapping of water
on smooth, flat stones.

This is a beauty
of dissonance,
this resonance
of stony strand,
this smoky cry
curled over a black pine
like a broken
and wind-battered branch
when the wind
bends the tops of the pines
and curdles the sky
from the north.

This is the beauty
of strength
broken by strength
and still strong.

A.J.M. Smith

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

everyday object poem

smells like blood
and silicone and soap—
dusty and sharp,
like iron filings
or old copper pennies.

began white, virginal

now the colour of tarnished hopes
and new (childless) plans

holds  the sloughed,
rich blood
that is pulled
from my womb

by a thin, tapered

Found Poem

inside this triangle,
rebels were inspired
to be in a state of insurrection

their actions subsequently
match their assumption that
rebellion was going on elsewhere—

and later their realisation
that they were alone
in the fight. Open rebellion unraveled—

some survival of the old
sentiments—this old agrarian agenda
(especially in the northern parts,

where the two are most
likely to have overlapped)
drifted back into the various parts

scattered by bad weather,
a footnote in history was
unraveling that night.


Swirls of ink thoughts
inhabiting corners
of pages everywhere

Poetry borderlands
defined and liminal
sketched in words

that taste and sound.

Monday, 3 September 2012

like noses

and my heart is broken
and broken
and broken
and I wonder if hearts are like noses
that need to be broken
to be straitened
to be righted
and I know, oh I know
that my heart
will be broken again
on my own
and I hope, oh I hope
that my heart
will be broken again
on God’s love

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Sad poem that I love

R. T. Smith

Is the scent of apple boughs smoking
in the woodstove what I will remember
of the Red Delicious I brought down, ashamed

that I could not convince its limbs to render fruit?
Too much neglect will do that, skew the sap's
passage, blacken leaves, dry the bark and heart.

I should have lopped the dead limbs early
and watched each branch with a goshawk's eye,
patching with medicinal pitch, offering water,

compost and mulch, but I was too enchanted
by pear saplings, flowers and the pasture,
too callow to believe that death's inevitable

for any living being unloved, untended.
What remains is this armload of applewood
now feeding the stove's smolder. Splendor

ripens a final time in the firebox, a scarlet
harvest headed, by dawn, to embers.
Two decades of shade and blossoms - tarts

and cider, bees dazzled by the pollen,
spare elegance in ice - but what goes is gone.
Smoke is all, through this lesson in winter

regret, I've been given to remember.
Smoke, and Red Delicious apples redder
than a passing cardinal's crest or cinders.

taken from

Saturday, 7 July 2012


a landscape sketch
a colour palette
some characters
with some flaws
knitted together--
in a wavy afghan
something homely
and lovely
held loosely in my mind
and beginning to take
shape on paper
of paper
and delicately inscribed
so as not to lose
any life in the pinning
down of the butterfly's

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


there is a certain peace
after everyone has gone to sleep
music of my childhood playing
competing with the rotating fan
reading words of beauty and wisdom
knowing that all shall be well,
and all shall be well--
and all manner of things
shall be well

Saturday, 30 June 2012

What I've been reading

Psalm 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11  Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Acts 3: 19  Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.

II Chronicles 30: 13 And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the brook Kidron. 15  And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the Lord. 16  They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the Lord. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone 19  who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness.”[a] 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with all their might[b] to the Lord. 22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord, the God of their fathers.
23 Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness.

Friday, 29 June 2012

On being fragile

sometimes it feels as though my skin is stretched too tight, that it has reached a point of being thin, translucent, lovely, but incredibly fragile. It is not a bad moment, but it is ephemeral and sudden. It is sometimes a moment of intense beauty and sometimes one of pain. It seems as though all of my nerves are pressed right up to that translucent skin just waiting for something.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

a poem by somebody else


Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap

by Tony Hoagland
from Donkey Gospel, 1998
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Friday, 8 June 2012

the mystery of seed

the mystery of seed
hidden in the dark
recesses of damp earth
somehow feels the warmth
of the sun far above
and sprouts
shoots up
we know not how

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


like your words through my mind
the bangles on my wrist rattle
there is a tone less clear
a tone that jangles the rest
out of order, out of place
until it is found and the metal beaten
which would make it
round and smooth and clear

Monday, 14 May 2012

as a fern that unfurls

chaos unsorted spirals
unravels and sorts itself
onto the page
scribbles become
ribbons of ink
and waves of colour
shadows shade
the lines of black
and white
giving depth and character
as a fern that unfurls.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

rubber bands

rubber bands twisting
around each other
knotted in an infinite loop
twining not tight enough
to hide the gaps
that keep them detached
defined square edges
that when stretched
show wear—ragged

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Poem 20

sea glass
celadon, bottle green
pocked by sand and wind
blemished, no longer complete
soft to the touch, mostly
hidden jagged edges
unlikely beauty

Poem 19

the waves that beat
against my shores
are wearing debris
thrown into the ocean -- left there
that breaks apart
until it is so small
it is infinitesimal
that it is unseen; unknown
it is consumed
by the waves that beat
against my shore
and wear away
the stone of my cliffs
and mix it
with the salt water

Poem 18

Trees are warmer than snow
they draw their heat
from a source of great temperature
of constant temperature
from the soil
from the centre
from the earth
they have been provided for
they are safe --
from the snow.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Poem 17

early morning fears become afternoon doubts and nighttime dreads
and the light is missing
and the sound is drowned
and we are tired and tired and tired
and outside there is light
and brightly coloured train cars
piled higher and higher and higher
until they block all view of the sky and the sun and the birds

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Poem 16

The colours are crisp
the blue of the sky
does not bleed
into the gold and red
of leaves on trees

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Poem 15

green glass bubbles and starting over

when you blow glass and there is a flaw, you break it
and start again. You cannot save it.

I think love is not like that
love can start over or it cannot

it doesn’t bubble
like green glass